Oh HEY LADY!!!
Not you, Fury. You’re literally so extra.
We see you; we love you; we totally approve. Not of, like, Ezria, or whatever—NEVER of Ezria—but of exciting professional growth? Always!
THIS WEEK’S MVP
“So do not fear, for Mona is with us.” IsAiah 41:10
Partly just by virtue of being Mona, duh, but mostly this week because she figured more out about the game in approximately 6 seconds than any of the Liars + Hacker Caleb did in the past four episodes combined. She was also super honest with about why she didn’t want to play the game (and what broken part of her psyche it so appealed to), but agreed to do it eventually for the love of Hanna, which, same! We ALSO have been drooling over the craftwork in #MurderJumanji, and ALSO would risk our lives and sanity for the love of Hanna.
Runner-up: Paige, for taking the news of the awful Emison baby twist so maturely, and leaving both Emily and Ali in such honest ways. Her “I have learned so much from loving you” line to Em? Amazing.
Runner-runner-up: Marco Fury! He’s a great detective somehow??? Doing great detective work????? And not being blinded by dumb man feelings of any kind??????? What has Rosewood actually come to!!
THIS WEEK’S LVP
Oh, just SO MANY OPTIONS:
- Spencer just let herself get distracted by her quest to find Mary and was sloppy with Dunhill’s credit card (unless she WASN’T and it was her EVIL TWIN all along, setting her up).
- Emily basically bullied Alison into having a baby she doesn’t want (even though Emily donated those eggs knowing other people would use them and she wouldn’t get a say), but she does come clean with Paige about it as immediately as anyone in Rosewood ever can, so that’s SOMETHING.
- Aria is just letting herself be dragged further into A.D.’s game, all to keep her pedophile fiancé (who, quite literally doesn’t even go here) from going to jail, where he rightfully belongs, AND for immediately APOLOGIZING to Ezra for telling him how she felt about the Nicole situation…but then that brings her back around to not deserving LVP, because it is Ezra and the patriarchy forcing her into thinking she HAS to make those kinds of apologies and those kinds of decisions, so, like, who even knows! She did constantly hide behind actual boxes of trash whenever she had to talk to A.D., though, so maybe she’s just asking for it? (The LVP award, NOT further emotional abuse by Ezra/the patriarchy.)
Pick your poison!
BIGGEST SHOCK/BEST SURPRISE
Wren is back! And he is so very, very sketch and random arguing with Spencer in the airport like that that she is definitely an evil twin.
Ezra looked Aria, a Liar who survived both Mona and the Dollhouse, right in the face and told her she couldn’t possibly understand the horrors Nicole has been through. SOME PEOPLE HAVE REAL PROBLEMS, ARIA.
MOST LIT ALLUSION
Comic books are literature, too, friends! And Lucas, he’s got the good stuff.
THAT’S SO [YOUR TROPE HERE]
This maybe isn’t a trope in the way so many others have been, but Spencer lurking around an abandoned property in the dark while wearing a great jacket, only to be accosted by a man ready to accuse her of something? Mmmm, that’s the good PLL stuff right there.
PREVIOUSLY ON PRETTY LITTLE LIARS
Hanna and Spencer tracked down Pastor Ted, who turned out to be Charlotte’s biological father and also to have been “letting” Mary Drake “sleep” on his couch for several days (translation: relented to her menacing him for same). Also also, Ted supplied the Liars with a photograph of baby!Charlotte from her days attending Ted’s Camp For Troubled Teens. Also pictured? Her BOFF (Best&Only Forever Friend), Lucas. Elsewhere, Spencer hooked up with Detective Marco Fury, while Nicole escaped her hospital in New York and showed up at Ezra’s where she nearly got stabbed to death by Ezra’s secret fiancée, Aria. In the realm of The Most Dark, A.D. impregnated Alison with Emily’s eggs, and it was honestly the worst. Finally, Aria got into A.D.’s date rape limo, where Sidney pretended she WAS A.D. despite wearing the world’s most obvious earpiece. They want Aria on the dark side, natch, and will blackmail her with info that could put Ezra in jail if she doesn’t play along. So she will! Even if it means her turn is skipped, and Hanna has to play again!
Sisters Doing It For Themselves Summit(s)
Alison and Emily discuss their options vis à vis the reproductive assault that has been visited upon both of them, and in case we needed any reminders of how terrible this situation is, here’s a transcript:
Emily: What are you going to do?
Alison: What would you like me to do?
Emily: It’s not up to me.
And she’s right…it’s kind of not. Emily didn’t freeze her eggs so she could use them herself down the line—she froze those eggs to donate them, with no intention of ever knowing how they’d be used. So in this particular instance, all decision-making power should lie with Alison. And while Emily is the one Liar who would always give up what she wants for what another person (ahem…Ali) wants, she’s also the one Liar who would never miss an opportunity to feel close to Alison. And what brings two people closer than a shared traumatic experience that results in a shared baby? Not problematic in the SLIGHTEST.
tl;dr: The girls are feeling angry and violated, but decide to get blood tests done to be sure A.D. actually did this terrible thing and isn’t just claiming to have done it for shits and giggles. (We’d honestly believe either at this point.)
Aria, meanwhile, is operating on her very own plane of reality back behind a dumpster in the alley being the Brew, a reality where her predicament is the literal worst of all the Liars’, so very dire that she needs to stoop to being A.D.’s spy to avoid her turn ever coming up. Sure!
Anway, crouched in that very strong metaphor for both her personal and romantic life, Aria gets a video chat request from A.D., who is WEARING HER FACE LIKE A HORRIFIC FACETIME NIGHTMARE.
If we don’t get an Aria-themed Snapchat filter out of this, fire the PLL merchandising team.
Our nightmares, at least, will never be the same.
EvilFaceTimeAria(tm) assures normie Aria that if she doesn’t do everything that he/she/it tells her to do, they’ll send Ezra directly to prison. Bitch, please! Do that! Save us all the hullaballo this last slog through Ezria Endgame is bound to be!!! Judging from Aria’s face, though, this isn’t so much a welcome promise as it is a frightening threat, so sure, she’s off to spy for A.D.
A Lil’ Summit Summit For Your Morning Cuppa
Yep, two summits! This one’s the real deal, though: all four Liars, no Ali, huddled around coffee in the ol’ Forgot-About-Brew. Well, three of the Liars are huddled, and then there’s Aria, sequestered alone in a wingback chair across from the rest of them like some naughty child in time out. Accurate!
Not at all fishing for info, totally normal, everything is fine, Aria produces the photo of Charlotte and Lucas at Ted’s Camp For Terrible or Maybe Just Troubled Teens, wondering if Lucas lied about being friends with Charlotte, or if he had no idea that Charles became Charlotte at all. Perhaps if Lucas stayed in touch with Charlotte over the years, there will be a trail that leads them to her? Remember what a techno horror show Lucas’ apartment was? He could totally have built #MurderJumanji!
Hanna, the person to whom he has promised a million dollars and also a huge factory space which he has definitely not relisted under her nose, thinks they’re wrong about him. The others aren’t quite so willing to let him off the hook, but agree to put a pin in the discussion for now. Real (well, Rosewood-real) life beckons! And so they disperse, but not in time for Aria to catch the insistent call from A.D. buzzing in her bag before it goes to EvilFaceTimeMail. That’s probably fine, right? We’re sure it’s totally fine.
Spencer delivers the world’s worst sounding cupcakes/a box of air to Marco over at the station, trying a breezy maybe-romance angle, hitting a totally nosy one instead. He’s fine with that, as he is apparently both hungry enough to eat carboard, and has been trying to find Toby (is Toby still a cop, y/n?), which endgame Spencer might actually be able to help him with.
Spencer explains that Caleb, who was too busy to appear in this episode but not too busy to give those cheesy Freeform promos all he’s got, took Toby fishing at his cabin to recover from the completely pointless and stupid death of his fiancée. Or rather, “fishing.” “Yes, ‘fishing’ can be a good solution,” Fury agrees sagely. Totally nonchalant, definitely not invested in the response at all, Spencer follows this exchange up by asking about Fury’s Fingermail. “How totally weird and random that someone who would want you to think Dunhill was alive would also want to prove to you that he’s dead!” she remarks, totes cazh.
Marco explains he tracked down a Welby nurse who knew Mary Drake visited Dunhill, and that they argued the day he disappeared. He’s formulating a Theory™ that Mary killed Archer, and he asks Spencer if she knew that was a possibility when she asked him to track Mary down for her. Spencer, Quickest of Thinkers and Never One to Get Caught in a Lie, doesn’t miss a beat: “I didn’t know Dunhill was dead when I asked you to find her.”
SMOOTH. He totally buys it. He totally does, right?
Aria, meanwhile, heads to Ezra’s, only to find him on the phone with Nicole’s dad. Nicole’s parents, unaware presumably that he’s a triple threat stalker-pedophile-rapist, are adamant that he come back to New York to do all of there emotional labor. SERVES YOU RIGHT, DUDE. He dumps this new info on her in a single breath, then too-da-loos off to run some errands, leaving Aria staring numbly into the abyss as her phone buzzes again. A.D.’s horrifying video chat face is back and PISSED that she got sent to voicemail. The rules are: 1) always answer the phone, and 2) give them whatever information they desire in order to keep Ezra out of jail. So Aria spills the proverbial beans that Hanna and Spencer went searching for Mary Drake, but only found out that Pastor Ted is Charlotte’s father. This really seems like a thing that a person who builds magical board games could’ve found out on their own, but A.D. appears pleased enough with this information to end the call.
When Spencer gets home, one of her decorative throw pillows is a millimeter out of place and her duvet is not properly smoothed.
There’s a half-drunk glass of wine on the counter, the back door is ajar (WHEN WILL THESE GIRLS LEARN TO LOCK THEIR DOORS) and a wine bottle is sitting on the ground with a note tucked in it. “Need to talk. Please. Mary.”
Hanna and Emily, in the meantime, spend their morning conducting a full poop-or-snoop through Lucas’ place, the place they have both been living for actual months, trying to find anything that’d connect him to Charlotte. In a poor attempt at conversation, Hanna asks Emily what she’s going to do about the baby, to which Emily gives a 100% on brand answer: Whatever Alison wants to do.
As the girls uncover a box of comic books, Hanna starts babbling about wanting to have all of Caleb’s babies which does not seem like great timing for a number of reasons. Luckily, she’s interrupted by the discovery of an envelope at the back of the box containing a handmade comic “by Lucas and Charles.”
It’s an intense comic! DEFINITELY worth some A.D. spy points, so probably let’s give Aria a call…
Marco has called Alison into his office to discuss the Dunhill case. He’s pretty sure Archer died the same down the Liars went to Welby to file a formal complaint about him. Even though all his stuff went out of town, Marco knows Archer never did. “If someone wanted you to think he was alive,” Alison points out. “Why send you…part of him?” Marco’s forming a theory that multiple (four) people (women) were involved, and the more people involved in something this messy, the more likely one of them will start to feel guilty and want to come clean…or at least, the more likely one of them will get sloppy and give themelves away.
Hanna and Emily totally got our memo about looping A.D.’s spy in, and so show the comic they found to Aria, explaining that it’s about a boy who is picked on at school and the alien super goddess in the woods who helps him by seeking revenge against his enemies by torturing them, complete with shock boxes like the Liars were subjected to in the Dollhouse. Little on the nose there, guys. “Does this mean Lucas is A.D.?” Aria asks. Probably not!! But good try.
Still, Aria’s optimistic that her single day of spying will have turned up all she needs to get back out of A.D.’s clutches, and so, after going back to creeping around alley dumpsters to wait for A.D. to call her again, Aria gets brazen and demands, “Is that you, Lucas?” of her own glitchy face. “Would I tell you?” EvilFaceTimeAria snarks back. “Also PS steal that book for me, you’re a waste of space and I hate you,” they add. “Cool,” says Aria. “Will do.”
Back at the Hastings Barn, there’s more wine-note shnanigans happening. Because down the neck of a wine bottle is the only place a Rosewood parent regularly looks, Spencer tucks her response to Mary back in the bottle and leaves it outside her WIDE OPEN backdoor.
Just put the bottle on the damn porch, Spencer! Rosewood Safety 101 is 1) don’t leave your doors ajar, and 2) never be unconscious at a dentist’s office! It’s a very short syllabus! You should have it memorized by now! Also, that is how you get ants. Secret keys to Mary Drake’s maybe hideout, too, sure, but definitely ants. Basic hygiene at LEAST, people.
Later, Spencer finds a way to empty even more Wine Mom note bottles by getting Emily Well Deserved Wine Drunk. Em’s mad someone would do this to Ali, to which Spencer retorts, “They did it to you too.” Emily keeps thinking about the letter Mary Drake wrote to baby Spencer in Radley, and all the pain and regret she felt giving up her child. “I don’t ever want to write a letter like that,” Emily says, and we realize with a collective groan that the writers really are going to go there and force an Emison baby to happen. And yep! She goes straight to Alison and tells her she wants her to have the baby.
“You think that’s good enough reason to have a baby?” Alison scoffs. She’s right—it’s freaking not. But despite this, and every reason that’s written plainly across her face, she promises Emily she’ll think about it.
Mona, Our Queen
Hanna’s getting a coffee at Ezra’s (Aria’s) How-Dare-Brew when she’s accosted by Mona, who is wielding an iPad like she could kill a man with it. Spoiler: She could! And she knows just the man to start with, as Lucas has put the factory—the one he promised Hanna for her Fashion Designs—up for sale behind their backs. Mona is livid, as any true Hanna bestie should be, and when Hanna realizes that maybe Lucas’ intentions aren’t totally pure, she FINALLY decides to bring Mona into the #MurderJumaji secret circle.
She takes her to Alison’s to show her the board game and Mona does not miss a beat before putting her ear to the board and giving it a good feel up. “I can’t hear a fan but I can feel where it’s warm—that’s where the batteries are,” she murmurs, so delighted that even Hanna asks if the two of them need a room.
Same thing tbh
Mona explains they have to finish the game before the batteries run down. She runs a finger along the side of the game board and a blade pops out, which makes her groan with envy that she didn’t build this magical murder game herself.
Mona wastes no time drawing a freaking blueprint of the board game, which is why she is our Queen and our Forever MVP. She explains to Hanna that the game was sealed upon it’s completion, so not even the gamemaker can get into it now. “There’s poetry in that. When the game ends, the game dies.” The entire thing is mechanical, handmade. But as smitten as Mona is with the game, she balks at Hanna’s request to help her play it. Playing with people’s lives is an addiction, she says. “Then imagine how you’ll feel when you beat it,” Hanna retorts. Checkmate—Mona’s IN.
Following A.D.-Aria-Face’s directives, Aria takes the comic book she stole from Lucas’ apartment to a darkened Rosewood High and leaves it in a locker, but as she’s walking away, she seems to have second thoughts. And then there’s a click from the very locker she just left behind, and lo and behold, when she returns to retrieve the comic, it has been replace by, yep!!!! An OG blAck hoodie, probably with Aria’s monogram embroidered on the back.
Emily, meanwhile, is meeting Paige at the Radley to finally spill all about the Emily-Alison Embryo Imbroglio. She even tells her that she thinks she wants to have it. Without a word, Paige stands up and goes to buy them some strong drinks.
Paige is starting to realize this is A Sign From The Universe that maybe she should take that Iowa job after all. Emily tells her she doesn’t have to leave town, but Paige feels like she’ll only be getting in the way of whatever’s happening with Emily and Alison if she stays (Please, Paige, stay! Whatever it takes to stop this unholy union!). So she says her final goodbye, gives Emily one last smooch, and leaves. It’s honestly so terrible and Rosemary is mad at the writers over it. They are ruining EVERYONE’S happiness for a ship that lacks chemistry at best, and is unhealthy and manipulative at worst.
At least the writers give us one more Paige victory: the cathartic confrontation with her childhood bully that we’ve been waiting for all these years. Alison wakes in the night to the hot-rolled disaster that is Paige’s hairdo hanging over her face. “I knocked. Door was open, you should watch that.” Paige and Alison head to the living room to chit chat as though Paige didn’t just break into Alison’s home. Paige does a semi-reasonable job of pretending to feel empathy for Alison, but needs to know before she leaves town that Alison actually loves Emily, to which Alison delivers an emotional answer about her complicated feelings for Emily.
And here’s the thing: maybe Alison is not an emotional manipulator. Maybe she’s changed and she really does love Emily and sooner rather than later she’ll actually be able to admit that out loud with real words. Maybe Emison can have a happily ever after that doesn’t feel forced and terrible. And if that’s the case, great! They are in their early twenties now, so that gives them, like 80 years of bliss together. And in those 80 years, maybe they can have a baby or two or six together, on their terms. But trying to convince us that Emily and Alison need to end up together because of this particular baby, one that Emily didn’t consent to, one that Alison is giving up her bodily autonomy for, one whose father could be any number of toxic psychopaths within that city limits, is like Mike Pence levels of RIDICULOUS. Alison should have had an abortion three episodes ago. Period.
AND YET, when Emily finds Alison on the floor of her kitchen later (clearly where you go when you’re feeling good about your decisions), they agree to have this baby together. Which is proof that the writers wrote themselves into a corner with this storyline and every way out was worse than the next.
While all this heartbreak is happening, Spencer is across town sleuthin’. She’s got her trench coat on, her flashlight out, and her Inspector Gadget vibes a’poppin’ as she walks through the dark house at which Mary wanted to meet. She waits patiently for an hour before the floorboards creak and Detective Marco Fury shines a flashlight in her face. After chilling outside her barn awhile, he followed her to the house then chilled outside this place for an hour before finally coming in to let her know he’s on to her and her friends, but mostly definitely her.
Spencer is as offended as we are! But also, Marco is a very good detective somehow? and gives it to her straight: he’s an actual legit cop who actually, legitimately solves crimes and all the evidence in this Dunhill case is pointing right at her. And to make matters worse, Marco now knows that Dunhill’s credit card was used at The Radley the night he and Spencer made elevator babies. Spencer’s mind races through that night and OHP, YEAH, OOPS, MY BAD she might’ve accidentally used Dunhill’s credit card instead of her own when paying for drinks that night. And she might’ve definitely accidentally signed her own name to the slip. Marco has requested a copy of said receipt and our armpits are sweating at the thought that he’s THISCLOSE to catching Spencer.
When Aria gets home from playing spy with EvilFaceTimeAria, Ezra’s got a bag packed. He “needs” to go back to New York to talk through some things with Nicole’s doctor? Because apparently “estranged bf” now gives you power of attorney? He thinks it will just be easier for him to go do it in person. EASIER. Aria’s like “You mean easier to pack a bag, get an Uber, go to the airport, take your shoes off for the security line, get on a plane, hope you get overhead storage for your carry on, deboard the plane, take another Uber to the hospital, and talk in person? Why don’t you just pick up a goddamn phone and call the doctor you fucking numbskull.”
But all Ezra can do is white boy whine about how what happened to Nicole is the worst thing ever (Which, yes, it is terrible, but also LOOK AT THE LAST TEN YEARS OF YOUR FIANCE’S LIFE. At least Nicole is free from her kidnapping and able to start the recovery process.) and then somehow be an even worse human and say it’s actually not even about Nicole! It’s about HIM! And his needs! To be a savior! And a hero! Aria’s like, “then be MY hero and don’t freaking leave.” But guess what? He leaves anyway.
Unfortunately, Ezra’s flight out of town is delayed, so he’s stuck at the airport. And wouldn’t you know it, but who should he spot but *Spencer* (is it) across the room, arguing with none other than one “Doctor” (is it) Wren Kingston. Rosemary’s Spencer’s Evil Twin sirens are firing on all cylinders. Spencer (or TWINCER?) spots Ezra and excuses herself from Wren. She’s overly confident and cool, not at all shaken like she was when she left Marco having realized she was about to be charged with murder, as she explains that Wren helped Charlotte sneak into Radley and she’s trying to get information out of him. But the situation is…fragile. So she asks Ezra to please not tell anyone that he saw her here. BECAUSE SHE IS A TWIN, GUYS. Rosemary stands by this, and even if she ends up being wrong, she’ll be satisfied in the knowledge that Spencer having a twin would’ve been a better ending than probably anything else they’re going to come up with.
Anyway, Ezra agrees to keep Twincer’s secret and heads home, where Aria APOLOGIZES OMG STOP for what she said to him before he left. But as they make careful amends, Aria’s phone buzzes in her purse, and she breaks EvilFaceTimeAria’s number one rule of not answering it. What will her punishment be, we wonder?
Later, after returning from her confrontation with Detecitve Fury and/or her confrontation with Wren & Ezra, Spencer/Twincer steps out of the shower in which she only washed the bottom ends of her hair (sure) and finds a note from Mary in their wine bottle telephone. “You brought the police. I understand. Goodbye.”
EvilFaceTimeAria is NOT HAPPY about being left on read. “I warned you, when I call you answer,” it yells at her. Now, whatever is in Jessica D’s Aria Creepfile is getting exposed. Hold on to your butts.
The Liars are getting closer to being caught, Aria goes way dark, and we find out Lucas’ shocking secret (he’s innocent)(or he’s ALSO a twin)(bets on both).
A(lexis and Rosemary)
About the Contributor:
Alexis Gunderson is a TV critic and audiobibliophile. A Wyoming expat, she now lives in Maryland, where she runs the DC chapter of the FYA Book Club. She can be found talking about Teen TV on Twitter, and her longform criticism can be found on Authory.